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Hilliard leads LSU comeback win
LSU running back Kenny Hilliard (27) rushes for a first down against Wisconsin during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014, in Houston. LSU won 28-24. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
HOUSTON (AP) — Kenny Hilliard scored on a 28-yard touchdown run to cap a fourth-quarter rally for No. 13 LSU in a 28-24 win over No. 14 Wisconsin at NRG Stadium on Saturday night.
The Tigers trailed 24-21 when Jalen Mills intercepted Tanner McEvoy's pass at the LSU 47 with 11:04 left. Hilliard ran for 53 yards on the ensuing drive, capping it with a sprint through a hole on the right side.
The Tigers extended the nation's longest regular-season nonconference winning streak to 46 games after coming back from a 24-7 deficit in the fourth quarter.
The Badgers seemed to have the game in hand after Corey Clement scored in the third quarter. Colby Delahoussaye kicked two field goals and Anthony Jennings threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to John Diarse to start LSU's rally. Jennings hit Trey Quinn for a 2-point conversion to cut the deficit to three.
The Badgers dominated the game until the sudden turn of events in the final quarter. Wisconsin held LSU to 16 yards rushing and six first downs in the first half and Melvin Gordon opened the second half with a 63-yard run to set up Clement's 2-yard TD run with 12:24 remaining.
Gordon finished with 147 yards on 16 carries.
After Clement scored, Jennings found Travin Dural for a 44-yard gain to the Wisconsin 8. But LSU settled for a 30-yard field goal by Delahoussaye. Delahoussaye tacked on a 47-yard field goal later in the third quarter to close the gap to 24-13.
Hillard finished with 110 yards rushing after being held to 11 in the first half.
Jennings threw an 80-yard touchdown pass to Dural in the first half and for most of the game, it seemed like it might be the lone highlight for LSU. The Badgers' defense, which lost eight starters from last season, held the Tigers to 136 yards in the first half and also forced a fumble which led to another score.
LSU trailed 17-7 at halftime and then was called for a delay of game penalty on the opening kickoff of the third quarter. Gordon then broke a 63-yard run straight up the middle to set up Clements' run.
Early on, the Badgers' offensive line dominated and the defense shut down LSU's running back trio of Hilliard, Terrance Magee and freshman Leonard Fournette.
Gordon had nine carries for 64 yards in the first quarter, including a 20-yarder to the LSU 45. On the next play, McEvoy faked another handoff to Gordon and gave it to receiver Reggie Love, who weaved through the LSU defense for a 45-yard score. The Badgers have led the nation in 40-plus yard runs in each of the last two seasons.
A 22-yard scramble by McEvoy set up a 51-yard field goal by Rafael Gaglianone and Wisconsin led 10-0.
On LSU's next play from scrimmage, Jennings rolled to his right and lofted a pass over two Wisconsin defenders to Dural, who sprinted for an 80-yard score. Otherwise, the Tigers' offense could do nothing right.
They started a drive early in the second quarter with a false start penalty and then Travis Dickson took a short pass from Jennings and fumbled at the LSU 24. Gordon found another big hole and scored from 14 yards out with 7:36 left in the half.
Tight end DeSean Smith dropped an easy pass and Jennings badly overthrew Dural on the Tigers' next series. Miles turned to freshman Brandon Harris for a series and that didn't change anything — he was sacked on third down and LSU punted again.
After Clement scored, Jennings found Dural for a 44-yard gain to the Wisconsin 8. But LSU settled for a 30-yard field goal by Delahoussaye. Delahoussaye tacked on a 47-yard field goal later in the third quarter to close the gap to 24-13.
Wisconsin defensive end Konrad Zagzebski left in the first quarter with an apparent neck injury. He was taken off the field on a stretcher. Nose guard Warren Herring left in the third quarter with an apparent right knee injury.